The effectiveness of prophylactic mastectomy in the prevention of breast tumors was studied in spontaneous breast-tumor-forming C3H mice. Prolactin levels were assayed to determine if this hormone was related to the incidence of mammary tumors. Two-hundred and fifty-six 1-month-old C3H mice were divided into four groups (control, 1; sham surgery, 2; mammectomy 50 percent, 3; and mammectomy 100 percent, 4). At the time of sacrifice (0 to 1 year postop-eratively) estrus cycles were determined, ventral skin (breast) and ovaries were removed for histology, and serum was collected for prolactin assays. Prolactin levels 24 hours postoperatively were significantly elevated (p < 0.01) in groups 2 to 4 when compared with group 1. Six months postoperatively, prolactin levels were significantly higher (p < 0.05) in mice with tumors compared with those without tumors in groups 3 and 4. There were no differences in tumor incidence between the four groups. At 12 months postoperatively, no differences in prolactin levels were noted, but group 2 animals had the highest incidence of mammary tumors (89 percent; p < 0.01) when compared to groups 3 and 4. Mammary tumor incidence was not decreased by 50 percent or 100 percent mammectomy in C3H mice. Prolactin levels rose in response to surgery and/or anesthesia and remained elevated only in tumor-bearing mice who underwent mammectomy, an occurrence similar to that reported in humans.
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